Last Friday, almost exactly six weeks after I walked at graduation, I got a job offer.

Today, I mailed in the last leg of paperwork to make it official, and the whole ordeal feels pretty surreal. In reality, getting this job is not any big accomplishment. After all, I will only be working part-time, and the application process was pretty pain-free. No grueling interviews to endure or ridiculous hoops to jump through. I won’t even be reporting to an office every day. Instead, I’ll be working from the comfort and safety of my own home. In fact, my mom couldn’t believe how excited I was over “that little job.”

I am excited about “that little job” though. After all, this is really the first job I’ve earned entirely on my own. That’s not to say that I didn’t deserve or didn’t work hard at the jobs I’ve had previously. Quite the opposite, in fact. But with each of those jobs, I had some help slipping in the door. My very first job, working at my private pool’s concession stand when I was 14,  had a traditional interview involved, but the “bosses” interviewing me were people I had known for years. My undergraduate job at Facilities Management was offered to me because my dad knew my soon-to-be supervisor. I never even put my name on an application…she basically just asked him to ask me if I wanted the job. Finally, for my teaching assistantship, I was automatically considered for the position as a graduate school applicant. I wasn’t even in the first round of selections for that position; I got the job after someone else turned the offer down.

But this job, as inconsequential as it may seem to outside parties, is different. I didn’t have a man on the inside or a shortcut through the door. I just turned in my application, CV, and cover letter into a national search and hoped for the best. When I got through to the next round, I had to rely on my experiences as a writing consultant to complete the required simulation. My work in that simulation is what landed me the job. I got this job based on my credentials and talents alone. And that’s a great feeling.

Beyond that, this job is going to be a great asset to achieving my future plans and goals. It is not only relevant to my degree, but it is also directly related to the area I wish to research in my dissertation. It would also boost my post-grad credentials for securing a job as a writing center coordinator or director. Oh, and it pays enough to cover all of my bills. And I still get the rest of the summer off.

Can you say winner winner, chicken dinner?

 

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Nerd Alert

The following is a short reenactment of a conversation I had yesterday. This conversation helped me to remind me of what my calling truly is in life. Also, it reminded me that I’m a big fat nerd. The conversation went as follows:

Me: *meets with undergrad friend/former coworker for lunch*

Friend: How was your final semester of grad school? Didn’t you say you want to go on for your Ph.D.? What would your Ph.D. be in?

Me: *immediately launches into a lengthy statement about the work I did IN writing centers, the work I did ABOUT writing centers, and the future work I want to do WITH writing centers*

Friend:

Me:

Friend:

Me: I really love writing centers.

I’m a really cool person, obviously. Also, did I mention that I got a job offer today? And, yes, you guessed it, the job is in a writing center.

A Stranger in Familiar Lands

Today I went to my undergraduate place of employment to visit with my former supervisors and pick up my friend/former coworker for lunch.

I worked there from the week after I graduated high school until about two weeks before I began graduate school.  Nearly four and a half years of my life were spent at that job. Yet I’ve only set foot into that office twice since I left my position there…once for lunch with another coworker and once for lunch with my supervisors. And both of those instances were within like three months of leaving my position.

So, today was pretty much the first time I had been there in nearly two years. I walked in, and my friend was sitting at the front desk. I came right in and started chatting with her. It was like those two years away had completely dissolved, and I was reporting for work as usual. In fact, I almost went right behind the front desk like I would’ve done back in the day.

Then, I caught myself. I couldn’t go behind the desk. I didn’t belong behind the desk anymore. I hadn’t belonged there for quite some time.

I then proceeded through the office to stop by my former supervisor’s cubicle. Others came by to say hello, ask what I’ve been up to, and send me well wishes. I was surrounded by friendly and familiar faces in a place that seemed to be frozen in time. I felt like I had been transported back to summer of 2014 and that, in a lot of ways, nothing had changed.

But everything’s changed.

While the office has the illusion of being frozen in time, it isn’t identical to when I left. People have left and people have come. Cubicle owners have shifted around. There’s a new fancy vending machine in the lobby selling school supplies (!). There are definite differences.

More importantly, though, I’ve changed. I’m in no way the same person I was when I walked out of that office two years ago. I’m older, more mature, and more confident. I have a much better sense of who I am and what I want to do with my life. I’ve found my purpose. And when I thought about this today, I realized that I have finally, truly moved on. I don’t belong there anymore, and that’s okay.

Sure, that chapter in my life is officially closed, but that only means I’m on to new adventures.

 

National Heartbreak

My mind cannot even begin to process the Orlando tragedy.

After spending my entire high school existence in drama club and being an English major in college (and grad school), I have had a lot of friends and acquaintances that are members of the LGBT community. In fact, except for the two men I’ve been in long-term relationships with, pretty much every guy I’ve been close friends with in my life is gay. I certainly am a straight ally and a firm believer in the rights of the LGBT community.

So, Orlando hurts. Granted, all senseless mass casualty situations hurt. Sandy Hook hurt. The Aurora Theater hurt. Paris hurt. 9/11 certainly hurt, though I was too young at the time to truly process it. But Orlando is different. Orlando hits really close to home. I have friends who live there. I have friends who have friends that were unaccounted for until today. The fear and pain of my LGBT friends is easily perceptible.

I think about Masque. Masque is an LGBT nightclub quite similar to Pulse here in my hometown. I’ve been there many times over the years, and I have friends who are regulars there. Masque has always felt like such a safe place. Hell, that’s why a lot of us straight girls would go there in the first place. Minimal pervy guys hitting on us. Gay guys having our backs and sliding right in if a straight dude happened to be bothering us. Other than flattering-but-awkward dance invitations from the occasional lesbian, Masque has always been a place to just be free and have fun. After all, that’s what LGBT clubs are all about…freedom of expression, acceptance, and love. It is a place where they welcome you with open arms, regardless of your sexual orientation, gender, or race. It is a place where everyone can feel safe to be themselves, and I’m sure Pulse in Orlando is much the same way. To have that kind of safe space violated in such a violent and large-scale way is absolutely devastating for a community.

I also think back to Pride Month last year, when my gay best friend and I unknowingly stumbled upon a Pride party at a bar in a neighboring town on a beautiful summer night. It was just a few days after gay marriage had been legalized across the United States, and there was such a perceptible hum of joyous energy in that room that night. The legal freedom to love whomever you want, marry whomever you want. It was a national victory. Now, only a year later, it is overshadowed by national heartbreak.

So, where do we go from here? Reexamining gun laws seems like a good place to start. But, for those of us not in legislation, the answer is simple: be kind to one another and always act with love. After all, as Lin-Manuel Miranda so aptly said at the Tony’s last night, “Love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love.”

Alumni Perks

I honestly have yet to be impressed by life beyond school.

Yes, yes, I know what you’re probably thinking. Doesn’t that sound crazy? Sure. Is that normal? Probably not. Is it sadly true? Absolutely. I mean, life without classes and homework and overpriced textbooks was fun…for about two weeks. Now I’m tip-toeing beyond the one month mark and realizing more and more how much I’m going to miss the university setting. It doesn’t help that I tragically have to drive right past my campus in order to visit my nearest Starbucks, which is nearly a daily occurrence.

For six years, I suffered at the hand of school-induced anxiety as I navigated through college and graduate school. I thought I couldn’t wait to be finished. In fact, I neared having a total breakdown at times and sincerely thought I needed a year off (a mental health year, so to speak) before going into a PhD program. I never would’ve guessed I would be yearning for more coursework a mere month out from graduation. Hell, I’m at the point now where I’m getting school-induced anxiety from a pure LACK of school-induced anxiety.

Needless to say, I’ve been holding onto what little bits of grad school life that I can. I’ve gone to campus to “clean out” my TA office three times, and I’m still not finished. I’ve refused to turn my office key in until I absolutely have to in July. I waited until the absolute last day (today) to turn in my outstanding library books, even though the class I used the books for ended weeks ago. But, despite my inability/unwillingness to let go of my grad school experience, I did realize today that being a graduate of the program does have its perks. Or at least one perk…the alumni library card.

Yes, folks, you read that correctly. The campus library gives out goddamn alumni cards. Good for twenty items at a time at our library AND five items at a time through OhioLINK, Ohio’s interlibrary loan system. As I watched the library staff set up my new alumni account and prepare my brand spankin’ new library card (which doesn’t even have an embarrassing photograph of my face on it), I couldn’t help but to feel a surge of pride. I EARNED this alumni library card, dammit. And I’m going to use it, dammit.

So, in conclusion, post-grad life pretty much sucks so far, but alumni perks at the campus library sure don’t. (And I’ve never felt nerdier.)

Hello Nostalgia, My Old Friend

I should mention in advance that the following post really has nothing to do with being an English major, a teacher, or a graduate student. Instead, it has to do with nostalgia. And family.

About a week ago I posted some photos from my recent trip to Seattle on Facebook. As I looked at those pictures, I couldn’t help but to recall the highlights of the trip, how much fun I had, and how much I learned about myself and the co-workers/friends I was with. The memories also made me realize how different the same place can seem depending on who you’re sharing the experience with.

Last July, nearly a year ago now, I spent a day in Seattle with my cousin as part of an eleven day exploration of the Pacific Northwest. We traveled through various parts of Oregon and Washington, spending time in nature, taking in the magnificent scenery, eating delicious food, drinking expensive cocktails, and consuming a lot of coffee. (Portland coffee shops, if you’re reading this, I miss you.) I’ve always felt closer to this particular cousin than other members of the family, but we had never spent this much time together. We definitely faced some challenges, but overall it was a very pleasant and rewarding experience that I thought served as a profound bonding moment between us.

Apparently I was wrong. I’ve only seen her twice since we returned from our life-changing trip. Once was about two weeks or so after we returned, randomly, in the produce aisle of a Kroger’s. The second was at my grandparents’ anniversary party in October, to which she came late and from which she left early. That’s it. Save for a few rogue Facebook messages here and there, I’ve barely talked to her in a year. And it doesn’t even really have anything to do with me. The whole family’s apparently been cut off. She didn’t come to Christmas or Easter. She didn’t come to my graduation party, even though she had finally responded to someone and said she would show up. She doesn’t take calls or answer texts from anyone. She’s just, like, gone. Poof.

I don’t know what happened. I don’t know what the family did to her or what she did to them. I don’t know what she’s afraid of, what’s keeping her from coming back. And, quite frankly, I don’t care. What I do know is that I feel used. I’m pissed off that she could use me to get the trip to Oregon she’d been wanting to take for years, staying for two weeks with MY friend she’d never even met before, and then never speak to me again. I know that I’m hurt that she didn’t come to my graduation party when she said she was going to, but even more hurt that she never said a word to me about finishing my M.A. when she’d always been so supportive of me before. (Just for the record, she and I are the only grandchildren with Bachelor’s degrees, making me the first of our generation to have a graduate degree.) Most of all, I know that I really, really miss her and her friendship.

She’ll never read this. I know that. She’ll never see the words I’ve wanted to say to her but have never had the balls to send her. And that’s okay. The words have still been put together, concretized through digital ink, captured on the screen forever. For now, that’s enough. Maybe someday I will finally get the chance to sit down with her again and tell her everything I’ve thought and everything she’s missed. Until then, though, I will rely on nostalgia for company, looking at photos and dreaming of ocean air, pine trees, and mountainsides.